Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Bloom Energy will team up on a hydrogen-blending project demonstrating how natural gas infrastructure can be decarbonized, the partners announced.
The project is set to launch in 2022 on the California Institute of Technology campus in Pasadena, California. The partners plan to generate and blend hydrogen into the university’s existing natural gas network, with the idea of showcasing the future of the hydrogen economy and the technologies needed to help California reach carbon neutrality.
Bloom Energy’s solid oxide, high-temperature electrolyzer will be used to generate hydrogen, which will then be injected into Caltech’s natural gas infrastructure. The resulting 10% hydrogen blend will be converted into electricity through existing Bloom Energy fuel cells downstream of the SoCalGas meter, producing electricity for a portion of the university. For this project, the electrolyzer is designed to generate hydrogen from grid-sourced electricity.
On a larger scale, the electrolyzer and fuel cell combination could enable long duration clean energy storage and low-carbon distributed power generation through the gas network for businesses, residential neighborhoods, and dense urban areas. When configured as a microgrid, it also could provide power to protect businesses, campuses, or neighborhoods from widespread power outages.
“We need to pursue a diverse set of decarbonization levers,” said Maryam Brown, president, SoCalGas. “Projects like this expand and accelerate clean fuel initiatives, which will help decarbonize California faster.”
The Bloom Electrolyzer operates at temperatures high enough to improve its energy efficiency and require less energy to break up water molecules and produce hydrogen, the company said. By using less electricity, hydrogen production becomes more cost-effective. The electrolyzer is also designed to produce green hydrogen from entirely renewable power.
A technical analysis released by SoCalGas found that fuel cell technology, powered by fuels like hydrogen, can provide additional reliability and resiliency that will be in increasing demand as California moves towards its decarbonization goals. The utility said it is actively engaged in more than 10 hydrogen-related pilot projects.
Source: Power Engineering.